Tipoff: 7:00 PM, Radio, Satellite Radio, Internet (Live Audio/Video & Stats)
The Oregon men's basketball team enters tonight's match-up with Washington riding a 2-game winning streak, and believe it or not, has a chance to earn the No. 7 seed in next week's Pac-10 Tournament, a huge advantage if the Ducks are serious about making a last-ditch run at an automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
But—maybe more importantly—the Ducks also have a chance to close down historic Mac Court this weekend with a pair of wins against their rivals to the north.
And if you're Ernie Kent, there shouldn't be any shortage of motivation. The embattled coach could very well be pacing Oregon's sidelines for the last time this weekend. Some think he's as good as gone. Whether or not that's the case, the man who built the program up from nothing needs to finish strong, not just for his job, but for his legacy.
The Ducks won Round 1 against the Huskies back in early January, capping a shocking Washington sweep to kick off the Pac-10 slate.
Unfortunately, the momentum didn't continue, as Oregon has managed to win only four of its 14 games since.
Washington enters tonight's game on a 2-game winning streak of its own, so the Ducks will need to bring their A-game against the Huskies.
Keys to the Game:
Play Washington's game. Odd strategy? Maybe. But Washington and Oregon play very similar styles, and believe it or not, this is an advantage for the Ducks, who have really struggled when opponents have forced them to slow it down (e.g. Arizona State and Oregon State). Washington leads the conference in scoring, but is near the bottom in scoring defense. If the Ducks can get hot, they will most certainly hang.
For the last time, REBOUND! Washington leads the conference in rebounding (39 per game) and rebounding margin (+4.9). The Ducks need to keep that margin close if they want a shot. Otherwise, they'll have to rely on the three-ball to keep in the game, and Washington is third in the conference in 3-point percentage defense, holding teams to a mere 31.2% from behind the arc.
Feed off The Pit. It's the final home stand at Mac Court. I imagine the crowd will play a role, as it always has at one of the more intimidating venues in the country. The Ducks need to pay homage to The Pit by riding its energy. If I'm Kent, this is what I'm talking about in my pregame speech. Feed off Mac Court's prolific history.
It's the Ducks' last home stand at Mac Court, and what better way to finish a tumultuous year than beating our rivals to the north to shut down the venue on a 2-game home winning streak. I think the Ducks are going to surprise us this weekend, starting with a big win tonight.